This is the reason the financial system is on the verge of another collapse. But the next time no amount of bailout will save it. And nothing is being done to prevent the disaster from coming. That's why it's inevitable:
Bloomberg reports that Bank of America (BAC) has shifted about $22 trillion worth of derivative obligations from Merrill Lynch and the BAC holding company to the FDIC insured retail deposit division. Along with this information came the revelation that the FDIC insured unit was already stuffed with $53 trillion worth of these potentially toxic obligations, making a total of $75 trillion.Full article
Derivatives are highly volatile financial instruments that are occasionally used to hedge risk, but mostly used for speculation. They are bets upon the value of stocks, bonds, mortgages, other loans, currencies, commodities, volatility of financial indexes, and even weather changes. Many big banks, including Bank of America, issue derivatives because, if they are not triggered, they are highly profitable to the issuer, and result in big bonus payments to the executives who administer them. If they are triggered, of course, the obligations fall upon the corporate entity, not the executives involved. Ultimately, by allowing existing gambling bets to remain in insured retail banks, and endorsing the shift of additional bets into the insured retail division, the obligation falls upon the U.S. taxpayers and dollar-denominated savers.